HONOLULU (KHON2) — A popular venue for concerts, graduations, and other special events will be undergoing some major renovations. The Neal S. Blaisdell Center, which includes the concert hall, arena, and exhibition hall, is scheduled for a $45 million upgrade, which city officials said is long overdue.
Built in 1964, the Blaisdell Center is showing its age. Lights need to be upgraded to make them more energy-efficient, there’s poor air conditioning and a leaky roof at the exhibition hall and electrical upgrades are needed to make the facility up to par with the industry standard.
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“Most of them are related to health and safety, saving money on energy costs, creating safer passageways,” said Events and Services Administrator, Mary Lewis.
The biggest disruption will be at the concert hall. Repairs and upgrades will likely shut it down for about a year.
Most of the work will be done backstage and in the dressing rooms. The shutdown is planned for June 2023 to June 2024.
The lighting system, lockers, and electrical system will also be renovated at the arena. So that too will have to shut down for several months. The plan is to not have it happen at the same time as the concert hall.
“We will have some overlap so that’s why we’ve kind of upgraded the Waikiki Shell so that we can move our bigger shows over to there,” said Lewis.
She said improvements have been put off for seven years, in part because the previous administration wanted to do a much more extensive renovation that would have cost over $700 million.
Kirk Caldwell, who was mayor at the time, eventually changed his mind after the city spent nearly $17 million on design and planning. Lewis said some of that was put to use in the upcoming renovations.
“It saved us a little bit of planning money and design money and we are very happy to be able to use the good parts of that plan,” stated Lewis.
Much of the improvements will not be noticeable to the public except for the addition of new bathrooms.
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“We will now have family restrooms, there will be more stalls,” said Lewis. “We’re taking away a little bit of the makeup area and putting in more stalls for the women. That’s always a request.”